Admiral Charles-Louis D’Arsac Chevalier de Ternay, born in Angers, France 1723, was in command of the French Navy, who transported the army of Lieutenant General Rochambeau, commander of the French expeditionary forces in America. The French, as allies, are the only foreign land and naval forces ever to establish themselves in America. The French fleet arrived in Rhode Island waters in the first half of July, 1780.
One of the most notable experiences of Admiral de Ternay before becoming gravely ill, was accompanying General Rochambeau to Hartford, Connecticut for a conference with General George Washington. This marked the first time that these leaders had ever met.
Considered a skillful navigator, Admiral de Ternay was not particularly well liked. His conduct in command, was subject to sharp criticism and it has been suggested that this did not help his health. The Admiral passed away at the French Naval Headquarters, the confiscated home of Colonel Joseph Wanton (Hunter House) on December 15, 1780. Cause of death: an attack of malignant fever.
His death caused little emotion for some, but his funeral procession on the next day was considered extremely impressive, more impressive than the people of Newport had ever seen. His remains were removed from the house by sailors from his own flagship. The procession proceeded down Washington Street, through the Long Wharf area, down Thames and up Church Street. The procession was accompanied by the sounds of mournful music and preceded by chanting priests. The body was brought into Trinity Church Graveyard. Even though the church was Protestant, the customary rites of the Roman Catholic Church were performed.
To quote Margaret La Farge from Scribner’s Magazine, of November 1917, “Chevalier de Ternay sleeps in the churchyard, an alien in a foreign land, Newport, with reverence and gratitude, having laid him among their honored dead.”
Admiral de Ternay’s is located in the northeast corner of the graveyard, his large granite slab inscribed in Latin.